Saturday Night's All Right for Baseball

By Chris Rewers on Saturday, May 14, 2011

Tonight, the first Saturday night game since June 20, 1998 will be played at Wrigley Field. In that Saturday night tilt almost 13 years ago, rookie Kerry Wood struck out 11 in 7 1/3 innings and Sammy Sosa hit his 28th and 29th home runs in a 9-4 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.

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Beautiful Wrigley Field has never looked better than it does under the lights.

It's been reported by WMVP-AM's Bruce Levine and the Chicago Tribune's Paul Sullivan that Saturday night games wre prohibited by a 1988 city ordinance. It is true that Friday night games are prohibited by that ordinance, but I recall that throughout the 90s, the Cubs hosted several Saturday night games that weren't televised by the networks.

The Cubs may have since forged an agreement with the city to not play on Saturday nights, but it was not part of the original ordinance.

The sanctity of day baseball at Wrigley Field is one of those "traditions" that is celebrated by fans who don't remember the often dreadful atmosphere of Wrigley Field that preceded the ownership of the Tribune Company. The upper deck was regularly closed and some weekend games attracted less than 10,000 fans. As for the makeup of those crowds - Lee Elia was on to something.

Wrigley Field did not become "the place to be" until the Trib led the organization out of the Dark Ages in the 1980s.

I love Saturday night games and have always circled them on my pocket schedule. It's one of the rare things that the White Sox had on the Cubs until lights were finally, at long last, installed at Wrigley Field in '88.

The 12:05 p.m. start times are the worst. No matter how early I leave when attending such games, it seems as though I'm always in a rush. I know that the purists will strongly disagree, but night games are way better than matinees - at least on weekends. As far as fans are concerned, night games are more agreeable to our biorhythms. There's more time to spend with the family or do yard work. This afternoon, I'll get to celebrate my nephew's first communion and I won't miss a pitch.

The day moves at a more relaxing pace. And nothing beats a fabulous pre-game dinner at a good restaurant. Saturday night games do the soul a whole lot of good. Here's hoping Saturday night games become a more regular occurance at the Friendly Confines.

The ballpark never looks better than it does, sparkling like a jewel, under the lights against the dark night backdrop.

Just about every police officer and security guard I have spoken with regarding the subject has told me that the 3:05 p.m. starts create far more problems than the night games. The late afternoon games cause people to arrive in Wrigleyville far too early and stay far too late.

I recall attending Saturday night games at the Friendly Confines on April 21, 1990; May 15, 1993; June 8, 1996; and May 17, 1997. All four of those games were televised by WGN and went off without controversy,

Let there be lights!

2 Comments

Nice post. As a long-time Wrigley beer vendor, I couldn't agree more about the 12:05 games - though my reasons may differ from yours. The fans arrive late, and they don't start drinking in earnest until the 2nd or 3rd inning. It's also a bitch to get to the ballpark at 10AM on a Saturday.

That last Saturday night game is also etched in my memory, though I may be conflating it with a couple other games from that season. In my memory, Sammy homered twice, Kerry Wood knocked one out and Glenallen Hill hit that iconic shot onto the porch of the "pink house." I wouldn't be surprised if those were actually three different games, but I think that only speaks to the ineffable magical quality of a Saturday night game at Wrigley.

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